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20 Spot nears in the Mission, Juhu Beach Club debuts, and more news, trends and scuttlebutt from the Bay Area food scene.

Adding to the ever burgeoning Mission District bar and restaurant scene is 20 Spot (3565 20th Street), a new wine bar with food set to open in a former record store right between Mission and Valencia Streets. Its owners, Bodhi Freedom (who also owns Bacchus wine bar in Russian Hill) and Peter Goggin have defined a niche that should set them apart from other nearby wine-centric spots, St. Vincent and EtCetera.

For the menu, chef Anthony Paone (formerly at the beloved, defunct Sea Salt in Berkeley) goes beyond the expected cheese and charcuterie. Dishes such as Welsh rarebit with winter crudite ($9), rabbit pate ($15) and deviled duck eggs with beet, horseradish and bacon ($8) show his commitment to what we’ll call “ye olde colonial fare,” all filtered through a modern Bay Area lens, of course.

Lighter bites include a chicory salad with pear, walnut, squash and sorghum ($10), oysters on the half shell ($3/each), and sliced raw Hiramasa with meyer lemon, chervil and radish ($14). There will also be cheeses available ($5/each), and a chocolate cupcake with salted caramel ($6) is one of the two desserts offered.

Freedom describes the décor as “post-war American.” It’s appointed with several stylish vintage pieces from his own collection, along with a bar custom made from local wood. You’ll also notice a light-heartedly macabre skeleton art piece, which was originally graffitied onto 20 Spot’s plywood by local artist Zoltron during construction. Freedom liked the work so much that he cut it out if the wood, and put it inside. You can get a closer look at it here.

Also cool: all music played inside will be from records, in a nod to the space’s history. To drink, there will be three beers and three wines on tap, 25 wines by the glass, and an extensive bottle selection, natch. Final building inspection pending, 20 Spot should open at some point next week.

Now Open:

1) This past weekend marked the debut of Preeti Mistry’s Juhu Beach Club, which was met with a line out the door on Friday and Saturday nights. Here, Mistry—who Top Chef fans will remember from the show’s sixth season—is serving a playful menu of Californized Indian street food. The 38-seat space is decorated with bright pink walls, Edison blubs, monkey wallpaper and a glowing fuschia sign hanging outside. Check out the JBC menu here on the website. According to Mistry, the opening weekend’s best sellers were the shrimp curry, Vindaloo chicken wings and the pavs, which are slider-size Indian sandwiches.

2) This tonkotsu ramen is now available at Waraku, a new Japanese restaurant that has gone into the former Bushi-tei address at 1638 Post Street. You can see the full menu online here, and it looks like the beautiful bones of Bushi-tei have been preserved, although the eye-catching communal table has been removed.

3) Subway tiles and reclaimed wood have officially touched down in the FiDi at breakfast and lunch spot, Foundation Café, which just opened on Kearny Street. They serve Four Barrel coffee and the menu seems to have some unexpected items like carnitas omelets, rockfish sandwiches, and roasted vanilla carrots in the chopped salad. Yum?

New Launches:

1) Over at Bourbon Steak, executive chef Omri Aflalo tells me he is about to unveil a throwback dessert cart, full of nostalgic sweet bites. I envision baked Alaska. The restaurant is also getting close to launching a new project called Inside Bourbon Steak, offering interactive cooking demonstrations and dinners for groups of 25 to 30 people. This sounds tailor-made for corporate group celebrations or some well-fed team-building action.

2) I was pleasantly surprised by the new $27 chef’s tasting menu at Berkeley’s long-standing Ajanta. I got the non-vegetarian option which started with tandoor-cooked Portobello mushrooms and scallops, and moved on to a huge spread of tender, flavorful yogurt-marinated lamb chops, chicken mulligatawny, green fish curry, and eggplant served with naan, three mounds of rice, chutney and pickles. We also tried the veggie samosa, which might have been the best samosa I’ve ever eaten. It had a much lighter crust than usual, and an ever-so-slightly palpable hint of butter. Definitely give it a try if you’re in the area, and grab a cocktail at the Hotsy Tosty Club afterwards if you’re in the mood.

3) Copita, the Sausalito Mexican restaurant from Joanne Weir and Larry Mindel, is about to close out its first year in business, and they’ve hired a new chef, Gonzalo Rivera, who is overseeing a new Sunday brunch menu. Instead of the expected huevos racheros, there are some more exciting options like chilaquiles with fried egg and red and green chile sauce, and black bean enchiladas with chorizo and scrambled egg.

Coming Soon: Lilah Belle’s, the organic meal delivery service and take-out spot that used to sit just by Dolores Park, is opening another little brick-and-mortar location on Divisadero Street on March 11. Owner Traci Higgins offers single- and family-size servings of health-oriented dishes along with gluten-free and dairy-free options.

Resurrected: In your local gay bar news, Marlena’s (488 Hayse Street) bowed out yesterday, just as The Eagle Tavern (398 12th Street) reopened in SoMa on Saturday night, leading right into a Sunday beer bust “in celebration of the new Mr. San Francisco leather.” The owners are currently accepting job applications.

Other Bits: Killed By Dessert is a pastry-heavy event that should be on your radar. The two-part ordeal begins with a bakesale on Saturday May 11th, followed by a “dinner” on Sunday the 12th, consisting of eight savory hors d’oeuvres and mignardises, followed by twelve plated desserts. What makes it special? Well, six of the country’s top pastry chefs put it together, and the desserts will be prepared by them (The Absinthe Group’s Bill Corbett, Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi, The Mina Group’s Lincoln Carson, Le Bernardin’s Michael Laiskonis, Del Posto’s Brooks Headley, The CIA’s Francisco Migoya) along with six local chefs that they’ve asked to participate (Saison's Shawn Gawle, Coi’s Matt Tinder, Delfina’s Jessica Sullivan, B. Patisserie’s Belinda Leong, Aziza’s Melissa Chou, Manresa’s Stephanie Prida). All proceeds will benefit Share our Strength, and you can keep checking in here for updates and tickets as the event nears.

Another gathering of amazing chefs from across the country will be going down this Saturday in Carmel at Aubergine. The local talents are James Syhabout of Commis, and Justin Cogley of Aubergine, who will be cooking a 12-course tasting menu in concert with George Mendes of Aldea, Matthias Merges of Yusho, John Shields, and Scott Anderson of Elements. It’s not every day chefs like this come together in one dining room, so if you can spring for the $250 price tag (plus $110 for wine pairings), you probably won’t be disappointed.

 

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Email Carolyn Alburger at calburger@modernluxury.com
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Follow Carolyn Alburger on Twitter @CarolynAlburger